GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control’s data from 2018.
September is Suicide Prevention Month. It is being nationally recognized to inform the public and health professionals about prevention and warning signs.
Angelia Craft says two months before her husband took his own life, they went to Germany to see their new grandson.
The tragedy eventually led to her own suicide attempt, and now she advocates to help others who have been through the same situation.
Every 11 minutes, someone dies by suicide, according to data from the CDC.
Craft said, “We took this picture after we went to see the movie ‘Up.’ I think it had just came out. And we were talking about how we would like to grow old like this couple was. No outward signs. Two days later, he was gone.”
Craft lost her husband of 25 years. David Craft committed suicide on June 11, 2009. He was a Marine Corps Veteran, they have two children, and a few grandchildren.
Craft said, “I, myself, became depressed and suicidal.”
She says her pastor and church family helped her get through this tragic time.
“Mental health: you can’t see that there’s an issue, but there’s an issue. And it’s just as bad as if you’ve had broken ribs,” Craft said.
Director of crisis services at Integrated Family Services, in Greenville, Mona Townes, says the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on mental health.
Townes said, “Even if you may not know someone who has died as a result of suicide, suicide affects all of us.”
She continued, “We’re gonna start finding professionals or individuals who have never been in treatment before who are now at a point of, they’re finding themselves in need of treatment. So, we want to make sure those individuals recognize what is available for them. And not only what’s available, but how to access those services.”
Townes said if you or a loved one is isolating themselves, not reaching out to connect as much as usual, making comments about suicide or not being here—joking or not, giving away prized possessions, or having dramatic mood changes, for examples, it may be time to get help.
“Yes, we all have moments where we have a bad day, where we’re feeling down, but for those that are recognizing that this is something that does not seem to be an end; those are the people that we definitely want to make sure that they’re paying attention to their bodies, they’re paying attention to their emotional health, paying attention to their physical health. And if they feel like this is not getting better, then it is OK to ask for help,” said Townes.
And she says don’t be afraid to speak to your loved one about it.
“It’s important to be able to share that you are concerned and being comfortable with having that tough conversation,” Townes said.
The tough conversation means asking your loved about their feelings, checking on them, and directing them toward help if you can.
Craft hopes her story helps others.
“Until it happens to you, we don’t really get that empathetic side of it. So, I just want to just be a voice to help people out, and let them know that it’ll take time, but things get better,” Craft said.
Craft credits her faith for helping her get to where she is today, but she still advocates getting professional mental health counselling. She also said the song “Set the Atmosphere” by Kurt Carr keeps her uplifted.
And she hopes the numbers 988 eventually become the national suicide hotline.
Townes adds, “It’s OK to not be OK.”
Integrated Services has a mobile crisis team available 24/7, 365, where trained crisis intervention workers can come on location to provide mental health services. You can call 1-866-437-1821 for help.